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What is reinsurance and what are the types of reinsurance?

Reinsurance contracts are those contracts in which one insurance company transfers its risk to another insurance company. Insurance companies which transfer the risk are known as ceding companies also, direct writers. Accepting company .i.e. the company which accepts the risk is also known as reinsurer. Say for instance Mr. has a life insurance policy with an insurance company for Rs.10 crore and the insurance company wants to transfer 30% of the risk to a reinsurer then in case of loss direct writer has to pay the sum assured to X’s beneficiary and then claim for the 30% from reinsurer. Mr. X has no relation with the reinsurer. It has contract with the direct writer alone and direct writer is bound to fulfill his part of the contract in case risk happens and then claim for it from the reinsurer. It has a separate contract with the reinsurer. Not all insurance players are in this business because the capital requirement is much higher than if the insurance company functions only in insurance. In India LIC, Lloyds of London are few reinsurers. There are basically two types of reinsurance namely:
a)facultative
b)reinsurance by treaty

Facultative reinsurance is when all individual policies are taken into consideration and then a decision as to which policy needs reinsurance and what % of risk needs to be transferred. It is called facultative because it need not be covered by one company; it can be covered by multiple companies. What risks need to be transferred is decided by ceding company. One major disadvantage of facultative reinsurance is accepting company goes by the underwriting standards or policies of the ceding company. Now if there is any fault in classification of risk and it has been put in the wrong risk category (referred to as risk basket), then the loss may be suffered by the reinsurer too. Now a days, in order to have a better coverage or protection, now a days, reinsurance companies have started involving themselves in the underwriting process of the ceding company.

Reinsurance by treaty is when there is an agreement between direct writer and the reinsurer. Reinsurance companies come up with proposals to the direct writers as to what is the maximum amount of risk they are ready to accept and what kinds of risks they are ready to accept from the direct writers. The direct writers choose the best offer and they enter into agreement. Reinsurance by treaty is basically of two types; namely :

Surplus reinsurance

Here 3 aspects are looked into

  • Maximum coverage available .i.e. what amount reinsurer is ready to accept.
  • Estimated maximum loss .i.e in case of life insurance it is sum assured and in case of general insurance it has to be assessed by the direct writer.
  • What is the % of loss or risk to be transferred?

Risk excess of loss

In this case the reinsurer gives a proposal that it will give a cover of certain amount for loss suffered upto certain amount. Say for example: "Rs. 50000/- in excess of Rs.100000/-."

Aggregate risk excess of loss

This is similar to risk excess of loss. Direct writer will have to wait for all the claims in a year, add it and if it exceeds the cover promised by the reinsurer, then upto the amount promised by the reinsurer loss will be covered.

Premiums in case of reinsurance

They are of two types :

  • Original premium/ direct premium, i.e. if 30% of risk is transferred then 30% of the premium received by the direct writer is also transferred to the reinsurer.
  • Revised risk premiums: reinsurers are not concerned with what direct writer collects from its clients, they quote their own premium for certain sum of risk to be covered.

The above article covers most of the aspects of reinsurance in detail. For any further queries refer to Moneymindz.com.

Many a time premiums charged by reinsurers are too high to be affordable by Insurers. Different types of reinsurance policies exist to solve this problem.There are types of reinsurances where the Insurer bears part of the risk and the reinsurer shares another part of the risk. The premiums would be lesser in such types of reinsurances.

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